Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Defense of The Internet (Brought on by reddit. It's been ages since I wrote anything argumentative)

You know, we whine about technology all the time, particularly the internet. WHY? Right, I’ll hand it to you, it can suck your time, make you unproductive, encourage the banal, even make actual face-to-face interaction difficult if you use it enough. A lot of the other technology we use can have similar pitfalls. Cell phones/texting can degrade your grammar/writing skills. Fast cars result in devastating crashes. Advanced medicine can also be used for warfare purposes. But let me just take the four things I mentioned, and compare how they make our lives different from say, 150 years ago.
We’ll go backwards. Advanced medicine. Imagine a world where perhaps a third of your siblings die before you’re 12. I mean it. Imagine that. If you have two brothers, one is dead. A simple infection can kill you. Diseases are transmitted lightning fast for lack of vaccines or access to them. Surgery is terrifying and primitive. No Vicodin here.
Fast cars. We’ll keep with the health issue. Ambulances. Ask any doctor, and they will tell you that minutes can decide whether someone lives or dies. I could give you any number of anecdotes illustrating the fact. Now imagine being a doctor with nothing but a fast horse. I know, ambulances are sometimes too late as well. But you cannot tell me the horse was more efficient. Life is fundamentally, completely interconnected. That person on the gurney might have been your soulmate.
A plane can drop bombs and be gone before anyone knows what’s happening. It can also get supplies to natural disaster victims in a matter of hours, food to desperate people before they starve.
Texting. We are going with convenience here. It is simply a pain in the bum to make ten calls trying to meet with someone, changing the plans. It takes half that time to text, and you’re enjoying your friend’s company twice as fast. Just phones in general: how would you like to wait for months for mail, imagining all the things that could have happened to your faraway friend in that time. Even the Pony
Express, crazy cool though they were, cannot hold a candle to le telephone.
Now, the Internet. This, to me, is the most complex one, because it is so incredibly multi-faceted. It is ridiculously easy to air your opinions, enlighten or deceive people, make them laugh, steal from them, inspire them, we could go on and on. Behold, I’m doing it now. I think the bottom line of it is that we need to stop acting as though the Internet, and not humanity, has problems. The internet is just a bunch of code and electricity and invisible stuff, fundamentally. It is a THING. It has no conscience, no compassion.
So there are a lot of idiots on the web. They were there before! You just didn’t know they were an idiot. It merely makes it easier for them to inflict idiocy on everybody else. So there is obscenity and racism on the Internet. Have you ever really studied Shakespeare? Have you ever heard a bawdy old bar song? Seen certain ancient art? HEARD OF THE CIVIL WAR??? They didn’t have internet. It’s nothing new. And may I point out that nobody is making you look. Nobody is stopping you, but they are not forcing you to click on the link your conscience doesn’t like.
So those are the cons. Here are the pros. The internet allows you to quickly and thoroughly research to an incredible degree. I know there is false information out there, but don’t tell me you can’t still cross-check things. It allows you to understand much more fully what is going on in other countries and how such things affect you. As previously stated, it brings the interconnectedness of everything to light. It allows you to share interesting things, to spread ideas, to connect with people on the other side of the world,. It can emphasize the truth that there's only one kind of people. People. That’s it. They are fundamentally just like you. It is often incredibly conducive to creativity and art, if you are willing to search out the right people and websites.
I’m not saying we’re better than our ancestors. They did great things and terrible things with the tools they had. Our times are not better, they are not worse. They are just that, ours. You can’t time travel. Live where you are, and quit whining about it. As Eugene Hutz so wisely says: “There were never any good old days,/they are today, they are tomorrow./It’s a stupid thing we say, cursing tomorrow with sorrow."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hyde Park, Victoria & Albert, Mine Housing, Thrift Stores, Fabric Stores, Antique Stores, and Varied Other Business

Get ready kids. This will be a long one. Here is a short list of what went down, and then we will go into detail. I went to Hyde Park, to the Serpentine Gallery in said park, wandered around by the Royal College of Music, tried to find where I will be living, got sort of lost in Kensington/Chelsea,(delightful, try it sometime) finally found the address, went to a thrift store, went to a fabric store, found an adorable little antique store that was closed, and bought Jelly Babies. I am now at my leisure eating said babies. They are deeeelishus. Here. Here are some pictures.

This was last night: I was just amused by the difference in the view from me window at night vs. morning.

Here's where I am currently staying, thanks to an awesome uncle. :)

Now we come to Hyde Park. This is not a little playground park we are talking about here. This is a PARK. A park where you could disappear. A green, luscious thing in the middle of stone and steel and concrete.

Allow me to remind you we are in the middle of a city of about 8 million people.

PIDGIN. being a pigeon. Like a boss.

There are enormous amounts of birdies. They get ridiculously close to you, make lots of noise, and are generally companionable and delightful. Later I will upload some little scribblings of them, after I color them, and you should all help me figure out what kind they are. I have guesses, but am not a birdwatcher.

This is not the greatest picture, but it immediately made me think of that bit in the Aristocats "Amelia! BOTTOMS UP!!!" ah. ha.

Not only do they have a neato park, they let you let your Irish Wolfhound run around without a leash. I now want a dog. There seems to be an unreasonable amount of beautiful dogs in this joint.

This was a little place in the park called the Serpentine Gallery. As you can see, it has a lovely enclosed garden, with a general air of peace and welcoming. The park made me think again about why design is delightful and powerful.It affects how people interact. The whole of the park seems to beg you to either sit/walk and enjoy the world around you, or bring someone else to enjoy it with you, and commune with them. It's lovely.


Here is a memorial to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I'm not sure what the official name is, but it's imposingly beautiful.

In case you cannot see, the inscription reads so: "In memory of Albert, Prince Consort."

The gate/fence merited a picture all to itself.

Guess what? elephant butt. In all seriousness, can you sculpt an elephant? I carn't.

Great socks, sir. I have noticed this great thing here. Unless there is a sign prohibiting what you're doing, you can do what you please where you please. I'd want to take off my shoes after a day in a suit....

Royal Albert Hall.

I would like one of these on my doorstep please.

Dear chimneys, you are so cool. I can't get over you.

More Albert, and the Royal College of Music.

This I have noticed: They are picky about where you park your bike. Understandably. Also, I want to be called Head Porter. How enjoyable would that be.

No detours here. No. They are DIVERSIONS. That reminds me, there must be another post too, LE LIST DU DIFFERENCE. a list of words. That are different. I want to see how many I can get.

They do not, however, mince words. Do we have these in the U.S.? I've never looked.

And just GUESS what this is. This is my future neighborhood. It is absolutely charming. There are posh little shops and hordes of chic people with dogs and clean snazzy sneakers. The Londoners, they have very nice sneakers. Sometime I will sit around and take pictures of unaware people's shoes, and make a post out of it.

If they were not police, I would steal their hats.

Here we are. Home sweet home. This is where I will live. I'm still pinching myself.

One walks down the street and sees gardens like this, with perfectly manicured paths and kids on tricycles behind the wrought iron and the hedge. I refrained from photographing said children. Duh.

May I have your dog. Thank you.

So I had to further pinch myself, because walking distance from my house is a FABRIC STORE. forget all this trucking-myself-to-Roseville-for-three-hours business. I looked at it, thinking oh, cute little place, prolly not a huge selection. HA. Here is what the basement/hidden next door room look like.

I pretty much wiggled with delight. The prices aren't awful either. And they have Liberty remnants. YES.

And this is a stroll down the block. I shall perhaps go in sometime.

Finally, kiddies, I went to the wonderful, enormous, free Victoria & Albert Museum. It is but a step from my current lodgings. I have made a pact with myself, that before I leave London, I will see everything in it. It will have to happen in installments: I only got through most of the first floor today. As you will see, they allow photography. This place gives me the same vibe as Hyde Park, richness of beauty for everyone, as long as you are courteous. All this incredible art (or nature, in the park's case) is waiting for you to enjoy it, there for the asking. All you have to do is walk in. Enjoying it so much made it really painful to walk past the donation box without putting something in, but all I had was a 20 pound note. Anywhoo. picshures.

I will do my best to recall what sections this stuff was in.

Southern Asia, I believe.

People, this is a hat. A turban rather. Nice, no?

This is the courtyard in the middle of the museum. Kids play in the fountain, though not today: was too cold.

He looks like he wants you to join him. No thanks, sir, never been too much of a necrophiliac.

And here's some stuff from the Medieval/Renaissance bit.

Need I even say who did that magnificent last one. The inimitable Dale Chihuly, derr.

I was just about to take a picture of the carpet on the half-hour, when it's lit for a few minutes, when the guard informed us that it was closing time. oh well next time.

All that was from the Islamic Middle East section. As you probably already know, they were not supposed to represent people, hence the ridiculously gorgeous abstract/geometric patterns.

And here is my favorite. It made me realize that I need to be paying attention to the history of this city, not just my first impressions.

That's what flawed perfection is, right there. On that note, goodnight.